Police State extravaganza at Super Bowl XLVIII

"This is the Super Bowl of security."

Armed sentries stand watch over disarmed travelers heading to the Super Bowl. (Source: CBS New York)

Armed sentries stand watch over disarmed travelers heading to the Super Bowl. (Source: CBS New York)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Attendees to Super Bowl XLVIII will witness yet another exposé of excessive security and infringements of civil rights.

Fans entering MetLife Stadium will be stopped at checkpoints, searched, put through metal detectors, and filmed.  Their vehicles may be inspected and their possessions will be limited to what they can fit into a single clear plastic baggie.  This treatment has become the norm for the NFL.

The New Jersey State Police Department blog describes the process of entering the stadium on game day:

Fan screenings begin at 2 p.m. on game day. Fans will enter heated welcome pavilions at MetLife Stadium, where they can expect to encounter walk-through metal detectors, X-ray machines, K-9 dogs and pat-down searches. They are encouraged to arrive early to avoid delays and to speed up stadium entrance.

“We are xraying every piece of equipment, every cargo, every beverage, seat cushion, every piece of merchandise, food… everything that is going in the stadium has to be x-rayed before it goes in,” Kevin McCabe, Chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency told Fox.

While there is no specific threat posed to the game, security is preparing for bombings and shooters.  “I would list them in priority order being a suicide bomber, a vehicle laden with explosives and a mass shooter or mass shooters similar to the Kenyan mall, or the Mumbai incidents,” said Ed Hartnett, former head of the NYPD Intelligence Unit.

There will be roughly 3,000 security guards and 700 cops present — and that’s just counting those inside the stadium.  SWAT teams will be present at the game and high-altitude sniper nests will be set up above the fans, where sharpshooters can peer down at the crowd with high powered rifles.

“If you have an active shooter or you have anyone who may have a bomb. Snipers have a better angle then anyone who is on the ground to actually hit that target,” explained Agent Jonathan Gilliam to MY9NJ.

A sniper nest at Super Bowl XLVI.  (Source: Facebook)

A sniper nest at Super Bowl XLVI. (Source: Facebook)

While the overall experience is highly intrusive and distasteful to some, the stadium is a privately owned building, and the terms of admission may be determined by the owner.  (Although weirdly, the stadium resides on the Meadowlands complex, which is land owned by the citizens of New Jersey.)

A more compelling issue arises from all the excessive policing taking place around the stadium, on public land, involving the police and federal government.

The Super Bowl is designated a Level One national security threat by DHS, signifying that Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 is in effect.  This means the federal government grants itself the power to intervene with and lead all security operations over a given event and its surrounding region.  In other words, money and manpower are thrown at the event with reckless abandon.

There will be over 100 law enforcement agencies converging in and around the game.   The Associated Press reports that roughly 4,000 security forces will be involved in the effort.

The perimeter of the stadium will be patrolled by helicopters in the sky and gunboat patrols in the water, armed with machine guns, thermal cameras, radiation detectors, and other high-tech gadgets.

“Everything that we’re doing has an air, land and sea concept,” said Lieutenant Colonel Edward Cetnar of the New Jersey State Police, who is in charge of security at the game itself.  He has 27 security subcommittees which include members of DHS, the FBI, and the NYPD.

DHS agents train in preparation for the Super Bowl.  (Source: CBS News)

DHS agents train in preparation for the Super Bowl. (Source: CBS News)

The parking lots of the stadium will be lined with license-plate scanners to log every vehicle that arrives.  The vehicles may then be searched.  According to NBC News, federal agents have declared that they will be searching every truck that arrives — no probable cause needed.

The police presence will be truly massive.  Mobile Command Units are parked on almost every block.  NYPD mobile watchtowers are set up along the sidewalks.

Roughly 200 “temporary” surveillance cameras will be installed to monitor Super Bowl fans, in addition to the 2,000 permanent cameras already in place.

A no-fly zone has been imposed for 10-miles in every direction around the stadium, and will be enforced by armed Blackhawk helicopters.  The gunships will be prepared to shoot down violators of the no-fly zone.  Even an Air Force F-16 fighter jets will be patrolling the no-fly zone.

Blackhawk helicopters patrol MetLife Stadium before the Super Bowl.  (Source: Twitter)

Blackhawk helicopters patrol MetLife Stadium before the Super Bowl. (Source: Twitter)

“At 4:30 in the morning, if you had been up, you would have seen a couple of military jets, F-15s, streaking across the skies of New York City chasing a plane. They actually drill this when everybody’s asleep so nobody sees anything that would alarm them in broad daylight,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller told “CBS This Morning.”

National Guard soldiers will be on the ground participating in security, wrote Politico.

Truck checkpoints will be located on the streets around the city, according to CBS News.  Evidently vehicles will be stopped without probable cause and searched.

TSA agents search the bags of train passengers.  (Source: AP Photo / Julie Jacobson)

TSA agents search the bags of train passengers. (Source: AP Photo / Julie Jacobson)

Public transportation is littered with police and federal agents, searching people on a whim.  Government agents stand around toting rifles in airports and train stations while making sure everyone else is disarmed.

The TSA started its “random checkpoints” on Friday, two days before the game.  The agents were searching and swabbing ladies’ purses.

“It feels secure,” said Robert Caballero to ABC News after his wife and daughter had their purses searched by TSA agents at the train station. “It’s a great idea. In this day, unfortunately, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Says the TSA on its blog:  “Super Bowl fans may encounter TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams on local transportation venues, including commercial and general aviation facilities and mass transit.”  These armed VIPR teams are free to roam around in and around public transportation venues and perform “suspicionless” searches on demand.

Train riders are growing accustomed to TSA checkpoints.  This weekend, riders will be searched without probable cause before boarding and after exiting.  According to ABC News:

The TSA has also added 200 screeners at Newark to handle the larger volume of travelers, and Farbstein said TSA agents from LaGuardia Airport will be performing screening on train passengers at New York Penn Station and New Jersey’s Secaucus Junction on Super Bowl Sunday.

All fans boarding trains to the stadium from Secaucus Junction Station, the start of NJ Transit’s 6.8-mile line to the stadium in East Rutherford, must pass through a security checkpoint manned by TSA agents.

Only people who show agents a valid Super Bowl ticket will be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint and board a train, said John Durkin, special agent in charge of the TSA Newark field office.

The NYPD will utilize its teams of officers in stopping, boarding and inspecting subway trains; and subway container inspection and explosive trace detection, in which officers examine bags and other containers carried by passengers entering the subway system to detect explosives.

Newark Liberty International Airport is going to be crawling with bomb-sniffing dogs, each of whom cost $200,000 to train.

The overall cost of the Super Bowl to taxpayers is estimated at an incredible $17.7 million and counting.

“This is the Super Bowl of security,” as CBS News aptly put it.

Americans have already been conditioned to accept this.  This level of control would have been found appalling a generation ago, but after being rolled out gradually, it has become as American as apple pie.  People now embrace the police state, while praising government troops and singing songs about how free they are.  Regardless of the outcome of the game, it appears the “terrorists” have won — by a landslide.

 

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